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Part 1

This webpage reproduces part of the
Historia Augusta

published in the Loeb Classical Library,
1924

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though, please let me know!


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Part 3

(Vol. II) Historia Augusta

p235 The Life of Severus Alexander
Part 2

29 1   Legamen ad paginam Latinam Before I tell of his wars and his campaigns and his victories, I will relate a few details of his private every-day life. 2 His manner of living was as follows: First of all, if it were permissible, that is to say, if he had not lain with his wife, in the early morning hours he would worship in the sanctuary of his Lares, in which he kept statues of the deified emperors — of whom, however, only the best had been selected — and also of certain holy souls, among them Apollonius,116 and, according to a contemporary writer, Christ, Abraham, Orpheus, and others of this same character and, besides, the portraits of his ancestors.117 3 If this act of worship were not possible, he would ride about, or fish, or walk, or hunt, according to the character of the place in which he was. 4 Next, if the hour permitted, he would give earnest attention to p237public business, for all matters both military and civil, were, as I have said previously,118 worked over by his friends — who were, however, upright and faithful and never open to bribes — and when they had been thus worked over they were given his endorsement, except when it pleased him to make some alteration. 5 Of course, if necessity demanded it, he would give his attention to public business even before dawn and continue at it up to an advanced hour, never growing weary or giving up in irritation or anger, but always with a serene brow and cheerful in every task. 6 He was, indeed, a man, of great sagacity, and he could not be tricked, and whoever tried to impose on him by some sharp practice was always found out and punished.

30 1   Legamen ad paginam Latinam After the public business, whether military or civil, he would give even greater attention to reading Greek, usually Plato's Republic. 2 When he read Latin, there was nothing that he would read in preference to Cicero on Duties and on the State, but sometimes he would read speeches or the poets, among them Serenus Sammonicus,119 whom he himself had known and loved, and also Horace. 3 He would read, too, the life of Alexander the Great, whom he particularly sought to resemble, although he always denounced his drunkenness and his brutality toward his friends, in spite of the fact that these vices were denied by trustworthy writers, whom Alexander in most cases believed. 4 After his reading he would devote himself to exercise, either ball-playing or running or some mild wrestling. Then, after having himself rubbed with oil, he would bathe, but rarely, if ever, in a hot bath, for he always used a swimming-pool, remaining in it about an hour; and before he p239took any food he would drink about a pint of cold water from the Claudian aqueduct.120 5 On coming out of the bath he would take a quantity of milk and bread, some eggs, and then a drink of mead. Thus refreshed, he would sometimes proceed to luncheon, sometimes put off eating until the evening meal, but more frequently he took luncheon. 6 And he often partook of Hadrian's tetrapharmacum,121 which Marius Maximus describes in his work on the life of Hadrian.

31 1 Legamen ad paginam Latinam The afternoon hours he always devoted to signing and reading letters. Meanwhile, the heads of the bureaus of the Imperial Correspondence, the Petitions, and the Memoranda122 would always stand beside him, or occasionally, if unable to stand on account of ill-health, they would be seated, while the secretaries and those who administered the particular bureau re‑read everything to him; then he would add with his own hand whatever was to be added, but in conformity with the opinion of the man who was regarded as the most expert. 2 After attending to the letters, he would receive his friends,123 all of them at once, and speak with all equally, and he never received anyone alone except the prefect of the guard,124 Ulpian that is, who, because he was so pre‑eminently just, had always been his assistant on the bench. 3 Moreover, whenever he sent for anyone for a consultation, he would give orders to summon Ulpian also.

4 He used to call Vergil the Plato of poets and he kept his portrait, together with a likeness of Cicero, in his second sanctuary of the Lares,125 where he also had p241portraits of Achilles and the great heroes. 5 But Alexander the Great he enshrined in his greater sanctuary along with the most righteous men and the deified emperors.

32 1 Legamen ad paginam Latinam He never showed harshness to any of his friends or companions, or, for that matter, to any of the heads of the bureaus or the chiefs of staff. 2 Indeed, he would always refer their cases to the prefects of the guard,126 declaring that if any one deserved harsh treatment from the emperor, he ought to be condemned and not dismissed. 3 Whenever he appointed a successor to anyone in the man's own presence, he would always add, "The State is grateful to you"; he would reward him, too, in order that after his retirement he might live respectably and in keeping with his rank, presenting him with such gifts as lands, cattle, horses, grain, tools, the cost of building a house, marbles for beautifying it, and the labour which the character of the construction demanded. 4 He rarely distributed gold or silver except to the soldiers,127 maintaining that it was a sin for the steward of the state to use for his own pleasures or those of his friends that which was contributed by the people of the provinces. 5 But to the city of Rome he remitted the tax on merchants and the crown-gold.128

33 1 Legamen ad paginam Latinam He appointed fourteen overseers of the city of Rome,129 chosen from among the ex-consuls, and these he commanded to hear city-cases in conjunction with the prefect of the city, 2 giving orders that all of them, or at least a majority, should be present whenever the records were made. He also formed guilds of all the wine-dealers, the green-grocers, the boot-makers, and in short, of all the trades, and he granted p243them advocates chosen from their own numbers and designated the judge to whose jurisdiction each should belong.

3 To actors he never presented either gold or silver, and rarely money.130 He did away with the costly garments which Elagabalus had provided, and he dressed the soldiers who are called the Paraders,131 in bright uniforms, not costly, indeed, but elegant. Nor did he ever spend much for their standards or for the royal outfit of gold and silk, declaring that the imperial power was based, not on outward show, but on valour. 4 For his own use he re‑introduced the rough cloaks worn by Severus132 and tunics without the purple stripe and those with long sleeves and purple ones of small size. 34Legamen ad paginam Latinam Moreover, his banquets were utterly devoid of gold plate, and his goblets were always moderate in size though elegant. And his service of plate never exceeded the weight of two hundred pounds of silver.133

2 All the dwarfs, both male and female, fools, catamites who had good voices, all kinds of entertainers at table, and actors of pantomimes he made public property; those, however, who were not of any use were assigned, each to a different town, for support, in order that no one town might be burdened by a new kind of beggars. 3 The eunuchs, whom Elagabalus had had in his base councils and had promoted,134 he presented to his friends, adding a statement to the effect that if they did not return to honest ways, it should be lawful to put them to death without authority from the courts. 4 Women of ill repute, of whom he arrested an enormous number, he ordered to become public prostitutes, and he deported all catamites,135 some of p245them, with whom that scourge had carried on a most pernicious intimacy, being drowned by shipwreck.

5 None of his servants ever wore a garment ornamented with gold, not even at a public banquet. 6 When he dined with the members of his household, he would invite Ulpian or some other man of learning, in order to have conversation of a literary character, for this, he used to say, refreshed and nourished him. 7 When he dined in private he would even keep a book on the table and read, usually Greek; Latin poets, however, he used to read also.136 8 His state-dinners were conducted with the same simplicity as his private ones, except that the number of covers and the crowd of guests was greatly increased, though this was always displeasing to him, and he would say that he was feeding in a theatre or a circus.

35 1 Legamen ad paginam Latinam He heard orators and poets with pleasure — not, indeed, when they made laudatory addresses to himself, which, following the example of Pescennius Niger,137 he considered a foolish custom, but when they recited speeches or the deeds of ancient men of eminence — and with still greater pleasure, when they related the praises of Alexander the Great or of the better emperors of the past, or of the great men of the city of Rome. 2 Moreover, he often resorted to the Athenaeum138 to hear both Greek and Latin rhetoricians and poets, 3 and he would listen to the orators of the Forum, as they read aloud the pleas which they had already delivered before himself or the city-prefects. 4 And he used to preside at contests, particularly at the Hercules-contest, which was held in honour of Alexander the Great.139

p247 5 There were certain men that he always refused to see alone in the afternoon or, for that matter, in the morning hours, because he found out that they had said many things about him falsely, and chief among them was Verconius Turinus. 6 For Turinus had been treated by him as an intimate friend, and all the while he had sold favours under false pretences, with the result that he brought Alexander's rule into disrepute, for he made the Emperor seem a mere fool whom he, Turinus, had completely in his power and could persuade to do anything; in this way he made all believe that the Emperor did everything at his beck and call. 36Legamen ad paginam Latinam He was finally caught, however, by the following trick: A certain man was deputed to present a petition to the Emperor publicly, but secretly to ask Turinus, as it were for protection, namely, that he would privately plead with Alexander in his behalf. 2 All this was done, and Turinus promised him his support and later told him that he had said certain things to the Emperor (whereas in reality he had said nothing at all), and that it now depended on him alone whether or not the request would be granted; he then offered a favourable decision in return for money. And when Alexander ordered the petitioner to be summoned for a second hearing, Turinus, though apparently occupied in doing something else, signalled to the man by nodding his head, but said nothing to him in the room; then his petition was granted, and Turinus, in return for a favour sold under false pretences,140 received a huge reward from the successful petitioner. Thereupon Alexander ordered him to be indicted, and when all the charges had been proved by witnesses, of whom some were present and saw what Turinus had p249received and others heard what he had promised, he issued instructions to bind him to a stake in the Forum Transitorium.141 Then he ordered a fire of straw and wet logs to be made and had him suffocated by the smoke, and all the while a herald cried aloud, "The seller of smoke is punished by smoke." 3 And in order that it might not be thought that he was too cruel in thus punishing one single offence, he made a careful investigation before sentencing Turinus, and found that when selling a decision in a law-suit he had often taken money from both parties, and that he had also accepted bribes from all who had obtained appointments to commands or provinces.

37 1 Legamen ad paginam Latinam He used to attend the public spectacles, but he was very niggardly in giving presents,142 saying that the actors and wild-beast hunters and chariot-drivers should be treated as if they were our slaves, or huntsmen, or grooms, or ministers to our pleasure. 2 His banquets were neither sumptuous nor yet too frugal, but always characterized by the greatest good-taste.143 None but white napkins were used, though they often had a scarlet stripe; but they were never embroidered in gold, though these had been introduced by Elagabalus, and even before his time, they say, by Hadrian. 3 The daily provision for his table was as follows: thirty pints of wine for a whole day, thirty pounds of bread of the first quality, and fifty pounds of bread of the second quality used for giving away — 4 for he always gave away to his table-servants not only bread but also portions of greens or meat or vegetables, all with his own hand, playing the part of the father of a household with all the maturity of an old man. 5 The provision further included thirty pounds of various meats and two fowls. 6 On feast-days, however, p251a goose was served, and a pheasant144 on the Kalends of January and also during the Hilaria of the Great Mother,145 the Games of Apollo,146 the Feast of Jupiter,147 the Saturnalia, and other festivals of this kind, and sometimes even a brace was brought in besides the two fowls. 7 He had a hare every day and often game, but this he would share with his friends, chiefly those whom he knew to have none of their own. 8 For he never gave any of these gifts to the rich, though he was always ready to receive presents from them. 9 Every day he had four pints of mead without pepper and two with pepper. In short, lest it be too tedious to give an account of all that he ate, which has been done in great detail by Gargilius,148 a contemporary writer, everything was served to him in due measure and according to reason. 10 But he was inordinately fond of fruit and usually had it served to him as dessert; hence arose the witticism that Alexander had, not a second course, but a second meal. 11 He himself would consume the greatest amount of food and he would drink wine neither too sparingly nor yet in large quantities, but nevertheless in fair amounts. 12 He always drank pure cold water as well, but in summer he would add wine flavoured with essence of roses — the only one of Elagabalus's various kinds of flavourings149 that he retained.

38 1 Legamen ad paginam Latinam Now — since mention has been made p253of hares — his custom of having a hare every day gave rise to a witticism in verse; for many say that those who have eaten a hare are beautiful for the next seven days, and this belief is also indicated in an epigram of Martial's directed at a woman named Gellia as follows:150

2 "When you send me a hare, dear Gellia, you send me a message plain:

'For the next seven days, dear Marcus, a beautiful man you'll remain.'

If you tell me the truth, dear Gellia, if you send me a promise fair,

You have never yourself, dear Gellia, you have never eaten a hare."

3 These verses, however, Martial wrote to a woman who was ugly, but a poet of Alexander's time wrote to him the following:

4 "If you see our king is fair,

Fair the child of Syrian race,

'Tis the hunt and meals of hare

Give him everlasting grace."

5 And when one of his friends brought him these lines, he replied, it is said, in Greek verses to the following effect:

6 "Since you think your king is fair,

Fool, by vulgar stories taught,

I'm not angry — if you're right.

But I wish you'd eat a hare

And remove your ugly thought;

Cease to hate the fair with spite."

p255 39 1   Legamen ad paginam Latinam When he had with him friends of the military class he would observe a custom which Trajan had introduced,151 namely, that of drinking after the dessert as many as five goblets; he, however, would serve his friends one goblet only, to be drunk in honour of Alexander the Great, and it was a rather small one too, though it was always permissible to ask openly for a larger one. 2 In the enjoyment of love he was temperate, and he would have nothing to do with catamites, in fact, he even wished to have a law passed, as I have said before,152 doing away with them altogether.

3 He built a public store-house in each region of the city,153 and to this anyone who had no store-house of his own might take his property. He built a bath, too in every region which happened to have none, 4 and even today many of these are still called Alexander's. 5 And he also constructed magnificent dwellings and presented them to his friends, especially to the upright.

6 The taxes paid to the state were so reduced that those whose tax under Elagabalus had amounted to ten aurei now paid a third of an aureus, a thirtieth, that is, of their former tax.154 7 Then for the first time half-aurei were minted, and also third-aurei,155 after the tax had been reduced to this amount; and Alexander declared that quarter-aurei too would be issued — for he could not issue a smaller coin. 8 And he did indeed coin these, but kept them in the mint, p257waiting to issue them until he could reduce the tax; however, when this proved impossible because of the needs of the state, he had them melted down and issued only third-aurei and solidi.156 9 He also melted down the pieces of two, three, four, and ten aurei, and the coins of larger denominations even up to the value of a pound157 and of a hundred aurei — which had been introduced by Elagabalus — and so withdrew them from circulation. 10 The coins made therefrom were designated only by the name of the metal itself, for, as he himself said, it would result in the emperor's giving too generous largesses, if, when it were possible for him to bestow many pieces of smaller value, he should be compelled to bestow thirty or fifty or a hundred by giving the value of ten or more in a single piece.

40 1 Legamen ad paginam Latinam He himself had very few silk garments, and he never wore one that was wholly silk or gave away one that was even partly silk.158 He envied no man his wealth. 2 He gave aid to the poor; and in the case of men who had held public office, when he saw that their poverty was genuine, and not simulated or due to extravagance, he would always help them with many useful gifts, such as lands, slaves, draught-animals, herds, and farm-implements. 3 He always kept his robes in his treasury159 for a year160 and then ordered them to be given away at once. Every garment that he gave away he inspected in person. p2594 He would give away all his gold and silver, and very frequently too. 5 He would also give away equipment for the troops, such as leggings, trousers, and boots. 6 He would always insist most rigorously on having purple of the brightest hue, not for his own use but for that of matrons, in case they were able or eager to have it, and in any case with a view to having it put on sale; and even today that purple is still called Alexandrian, which is commonly spoken of as Probian merely because Aurelius Probus, the superintendent of the dye-works,161 invented this kind of dye. 7 He himself usually wore a scarlet cloak,162 but when in Rome and the cities of Italy he was always dressed in the toga.163 8 On the other hand, he never assumed the bordered or the gold-embroidered toga164 except when consul, and then it was always the one which was brought out from the temple of Jupiter and assumed by all the other praetors and consuls.165 9 He also assumed the bordered toga when he performed sacrifices, but then only as pontifex maximus, and not as emperor. 10 He was always eager to get good linen, without any purple in it, for he used to say, "If these garments are made of linen in order to prevent their being rough, what is the use of having purple in the linen?" 11 And as for inserting gold threads, he deemed it madness, since in addition to being rough they also made the garment stiff. He always wore bands on his legs,166 and he used white p261trousers,167 not scarlet ones, as had formerly been the custom.

41 1 Legamen ad paginam Latinam All the jewels that he had he sold and the proceeds he deposited in the public treasury, saying that men had no need of jewels,168 and that the women of the royal household should be content with one hair-net, a pair of earrings, a necklace of pearls, a diadem to wear while sacrificing, a single cloak ornamented with gold, and one robe with an embroidered border, not to contain more than six ounces of gold. 2 In every way he exercised a censorship on the customs of his age quite in keeping with his own manner of life, for illustrious men followed his example and noble matrons that of his wife. 3 The palace-servants were so reduced in number that in each department there were no more than absolute necessity demanded; and the fullers, the tailors, the bakers, the cup-bearers, and all the court-servants were granted rations but not any official rank, as had been the practice of that scourge, and only single rations too, rarely double ones. 4 And since he never had more than two hundred pounds of silver-plate in his table service,169 and a correspondingly small number of servants, when he gave banquets he would borrow from his friends silver-plate, servants, and couch-covers — a custom still in vogue to‑day when the prefects give banquets in the emperor's absence. 5 He never had dramatic entertainments at his banquets,170 but his p263chief amusement consisted in having young dogs play with little pigs, or partridges fight with one another, or tiny little birds fly about to and fro. 6 He did have one kind of amusement in the Palace which gave him the greatest pleasure and afforded him relief from the cares of state; 7 for he arranged aviaries of pea-fowl, pheasants, hens, ducks, and partridges, and from these he derived great amusement, but most of all from his doves, of which he had, it is said, as many as twenty thousand. And in order that the food for these might not become a burden to the grain-supply, he had slaves to provide the necessary income, who maintained the doves on the proceeds of the eggs and the squabs and the young birds.

42 1   Legamen ad paginam Latinam He frequently used the public baths in company with the populace, especially in summer, using both those built by himself and the older ones, and he would return to the Palace in his bathing-costume, retaining only this much of the emperor, namely, that he put on a scarlet cloak. 2 As runners he had none but slaves, for he said that a free-born man ought not to run except in a contest held in honour of a god; and he had none but slaves as cooks, bakers, fullers, and bath-keepers, buying more if there was any lack. 3 During his reign only one palace-physician received a salary,171 while all the others, of whom there were never more than six, received double or triple rations, one being of the finest kind, the others of different quality. 4 Whenever he advanced judicial officers he provided them, after the custom of the ancients (described also by Cicero),172 with silver and all needed equipment, providing a provincial governor with twenty pounds of silver, six she-mules, a pair of mules, a pair of horses, p265two garments for use in the forum, two for use at home, and one for the bath, one hundred aurei, one cook, one muleteer, and a concubine in the case of a man who had no wife and could not live without a woman. Of these, the mules and the horses, the muleteer and the cook were to be returned when the governor laid down his office; the rest, however, he might keep if he had governed well, but if ill, he must return them fourfold and also undergo the punishment imposed for embezzlement or extortion.

43 1 Legamen ad paginam Latinam He enacted laws without number. He permitted every senator to use a carriage in the city and to have a coach ornamented with silver,173 thinking that it enhanced the dignity of Rome that these should be used by the senators of so great a city. 2 In appointing consuls, either regular or substitute,174 he always asked for the opinion of the senate; he reduced their expenses, furthermore, and arranged for the days of their entry into office175 in accordance with the ancient system. 3 He issued an order that a quaestor who was the nominee of the emperor should give games to the people at his own expense,176 but with the understanding that after the quaestorship he was to receive a praetorship and then govern a province; 4 ordinary quaestors, on the other hand, were authorized to pay for their games — which were less lavish — out of the revenues of the privy-purse. And it was his intention to have the games given at regular intervals throughout the whole year, in order that the people might have a spectacle every thirty days, but this plan, for some unknown reason, was never carried out. 5 Every seven days, when he was in the city, he p267went up to the Capitolium, and he visited the other temples frequently. 6 He also wished to build a temple to Christ and give him a place among the gods177 — a measure, which, they say, was also considered by Hadrian. For Hadrian ordered a temple without an image to be built in every city, and because these temples, built by him with this intention, so they say, are dedicated to no particular deity, they are called today merely Hadrian's temples.178 7 Alexander, however, was prevented from carrying out this purpose, because those who examined the sacred victims ascertained that if he did, all men would become Christians and the other temples would of necessity be abandoned.

44 1 Legamen ad paginam Latinam He was very kindly in his jests, agreeable in his conversation, and generous at his banquets, so much so, in fact, that anyone might ask for whatever he wished. 2 He was diligent in amassing gold,179 careful in keeping it, and zealous in procuring it, and he never put any one to death. 3 He did not like to be called a Syrian180 and asserted that his ancestors were Romans, and he had his family-tree depicted, showing that he was descended from the Metelli.181

4 To rhetoricians, grammarians, physicians, soothsayers, astrologers, engineers, and architects he paid regular salaries and assigned lecture-rooms, and he ordered rations to be given to their pupils, provided these were sons of poor men and free-born. 5 Also in the provinces he granted many privileges to pleaders in the courts, and to some, whom he appointed to plead cases without remuneration, he even gave rations. 6 The laws governing literary contests182 he p269made more stringent, always observing them most scrupulously himself, and he frequently attended performances in the theatre. 7 He planned to repair the Theatre of Marcellus,183 8 and in many cities, which had been rendered unsightly by earthquakes, he made an appropriation from the public revenues to pay for the restoration of both public and private buildings. 9 But to temples he never made donations of more than four or five pounds of silver, and of gold not even a mite or the thinnest leaf, and he was even heard to murmur a line of Persius Flaccus:184

"What place has gold in sanctuaries?"

45 1 Legamen ad paginam Latinam He conducted military expeditions, which I shall describe in their proper place.185 But first I will tell of his way of dealing with matters to be kept secret or announced publicly. 2 He always kept secret the plan for a campaign, but announced openly the length of each day's march; and he would even issue a proclamation two months beforehand, in which was written, "On such and such a day, and at such and such an hour, I shall depart from the city, and, if the gods so will, I shall tarry at the first halting-place." Then were listed in order all the halting-places, next the camping-stations, and next the places where provisions were to be found, for the whole length of the march as far as the boundaries of the barbarians' country. 3 From here on everything was kept secret and all took every precaution to keep the barbarians in ignorance of the plans of the Romans. 4 It is certain, moreover, that he never practised any deception in anything that he announced publicly, for he declared that he would not allow the palace-officials to sell his plans, as had been done under Elagabalus, p271when everything was sold by the eunuchs1865 a class of men who desire that all the palace-affairs should be kept secret, solely in order that they alone may seem to have knowledge of them and thus possess the means of obtaining influence or money.

6 Now since we happen to have made mention of his practice of announcing his plans publicly — whenever Alexander desired to name any man governor of a province, or make him an officer in the army, or appoint him a procurator, that is to say, a revenue-officer,187 he always announced his name publicly and charged the people, in case anyone wished to bring an accusation against him, to prove it by irrefutable evidence, declaring that anyone who failed to prove his charge should suffer capital punishment. 7 For, he used to say, it was unjust that, when Christians and Jews observed this custom in announcing the names of those who were to be ordained priests,188 it should not be similarly observed in the case of governors of provinces, to whose keeping were committed the fortunes and lives of men. 46Legamen ad paginam Latinam Furthermore, the assistants of the governors were granted regular salaries,189 though he often said that only those men ought to be promoted who could carry on the administration of the state by their own efforts and did not need the aid of assistants, adding that soldiers had their own particular sphere, and scholars theirs, and that accordingly it was the duty of every man to do whatever he could.

2 Treasure-trove he always gave to the finders,190 and if these were numerous he would include among them the officials of his various departments. 3 He always remembered and wrote down the names of those to whom he had granted some favour, and if he knew p273that there was a man who had not asked for something, or at any rate not much, which would cause his expenses to increase,191 he would call him and say, "Why is it, that you do not ask for some present? Is it because you wish me to be your debtor? ask for something, then, that you may not, by remaining a private citizen, have cause to complain of me." 4 When he granted favours, moreover, he would grant those which would not damage his reputation, such as, for instance, the property of those who had suffered punishment, but never the gold or the silver or the jewels, for all these he deposited in the public treasury;192 or he would grant civil offices, but never military, or else those posts which had to do with the collection of the revenues. 5 His revenue-officers he would change frequently, and none held office for longer than a year; and even if the officers were upright, he detested them and referred to them as a necessary evil. And when he appointed governors of provinces, proconsuls, or legates,193 it was never as a favour but solely on the basis of his own judgment or that of the senate.

47 1 Legamen ad paginam Latinam During his campaigns he made such careful provision for the soldiers that they were furnished with supplies at each halting-place and were never compelled to carry food for the usual period of seventeen days,194 except in the enemy's country. And even then he lightened their burdens by using mules and camels, saying that he was more concerned for the soldiers' welfare than for his own, for on them depended the safety of the state. 2 When any of the soldiers were ill he would visit them personally in their tents, even those of the lowest rank, and have them carried in carts and provided with every p275necessity; 3 and if by any chance they grew worse, he would quarter them on the most upright house-holders or highly esteemed matrons in the cities and the country-districts, paying back the expenses which they incurred, whether they recovered or died.

48 1 Legamen ad paginam Latinam Once, when a certain Ovinius Camillus,195 a senator of ancient family but very pleasure-loving, made plans to rebel and seize the throne, and this was reported to Alexander and forthwith proved, he summoned him to the Palace and thanked him for voluntarily offering to assume the responsibility for the state, which had been imposed on many a good man against his will. 2 Then he proceeded to the senate and greeted as partner in the imperial power this trembling wretch now overcome with weakness at the realization of his guilt. Next, he conducted him to the Palace, invited him to a banquet, and presented him with the imperial insignia, of a better quality, even, than his own. 3 Later, when an expedition against the barbarians was announced, he urged him either to set forth on his own responsibility, did he so desire, or to proceed in company with himself. 4 And since he himself travelled on foot, he invited Camillus to share his labours, but when the man fell behind after five miles, he bade him ride a horse, and again, when after two days' journey he was tired out by riding, he had him put in a carriage. 5 And when Camillus refused even this, either through fear or in sincerity, and even resigned his power and made ready to die, Alexander sent him away, commending him to the soldiers, by whom he himself was singularly beloved, and bidding him go in safety to his country-estate. 6 Here he lived for a long time, but afterwards he was put to death by the Emperor's p277command, and, because he was a soldier, he was put to death by soldiers. The common crowd, I know, ascribes this incident, which I have just related, to Trajan, but Marius Maximus has not published it in his Life of Trajan, nor yet Fabius Marcellinus196 or Aurelius Verus or Statius Valens,197 all of whom have written accounts of Trajan's entire life. 7 On the other hand, Septimius and Acholius and Encolpius198 and his other biographers have related just such stories as this about Alexander, 8 and I have included this one here in order that no one may accept common rumour rather than real history, which at least will be found more authentic than the talk of the crowd.

49 1 Legamen ad paginam Latinam The right of wearing the sword199 he would never allow to be sold, for he said: "It must inevitably happen that he who buys will also sell, and I will not tolerate traffickers in offices or men on whom, if they should plunder, I could not impose sentence. For I blush at the thought that a man who buys and sells should be able to inflict punishment." 2 The office of pontifex and also membership in the College of Fifteen200 and the augurship he bestowed by imperial mandate, but always on condition that the appointment be ratified by the senate.

3 Dexippus201 has related that Alexander married the daughter of a certain Macrinus202 and that he gave this man the name of Caesar; 4 moreover, that when Macrinus tried to kill him by treachery, Alexander, p279on detecting the plot, not only put Macrinus to death but also divorced his wife. 5 The same writer says also that Antoninus Elagabalus was the uncle of Alexander,203 and not the son of his mother's sister. 6 And when the Christians took possession of a certain place, which had previously been public property, and the keepers of an eating-house maintained that it belonged to them, Alexander rendered the decision that it was better for some sort of a god to be worshipped there than for the place to be handed to the keepers of an eating-house.

50 1 Legamen ad paginam Latinam And so, after showing himself such a great and good emperor at home and abroad, he embarked upon a campaign against the Parthians;204 and this he conducted with such discipline205 and amid such respect, that you would have said that senators, not soldiers, were passing that way. 2 Wherever the legions directed their march, the tribunes were orderly, the centurions modest, and the soldiers courteous, and as for Alexander himself, because of these many great acts of consideration, the inhabitants of the provinces looked up to him as to a god. 3 And the soldiers too loved their youthful emperor like a brother, or a son, or a father;206 for they were respectably clad, well shod, even to the point of elegance, excellently armed, and even provided with horses and suitable saddles and bridles, so that all who saw the army of Alexander immediately realized the power of Rome. 4 In short, he made every effort to appear worthy of his name and even to surpass the Macedonian king, and he used to say that there should be a great difference between a Roman and a Macedonian Alexander. 5 Finally, he provided himself with soldiers armed with silver shields and with p281golden,207 and also a phalanx of thirty thousand men, whom he ordered to be called phalangarii, and with these he won many victories in Persia.208 This phalanx, as a matter of fact, was formed from six legions, and was armed like the other troops, but after the Persian wars received higher pay.

51 1 Legamen ad paginam Latinam Gifts presented to him by kings he would always dedicate in a temple, but the jewels that were given to him he sold,209 maintaining that jewels were for women and that they should not be given to a soldier or be worn by a man. 2 And when one of his legates presented to the Emperor's wife through Alexander himself two pearls of great weight and uncommon size, he ordered them to be sold. 3 But when no offer could be found, fearing that a bad example might be set by the queen, were she to wear jewels too costly to find a buyer, he dedicated them to Venus for earrings.

4 He always treated Ulpian as his guardian — a fact which called forth, first the opposition of his mother, but, later, her gratitude — and he frequently protected him from the soldiers' ill‑will by sheltering him under his own purple robe.210 In fact, it was because he ruled chiefly in accordance with Ulpian's advice that he was so excellent an emperor.211

5 When in the field or on a campaign he lunched and dined in an open tent and ate the soldiers' ordinary food in the sight of all and greatly to their pleasure;212 and he used to go about to all the tents and p283never permitted anyone to be absent from the colours. 6 Moreover, if any man turned aside from the road into someone's private property, he was punished in the Emperor's presence according to the character of his rank, either by the club or by the rod or by condemnation to death, or, if his rank placed him above all these penalties, by the sternest sort of a rebuke, the Emperor saying, "Do you desire this to be done to your land which you are doing to another's?" 7 He used often to exclaim what he had heard from someone, either a Jew or a Christian,213 and always remembered, and he also had it announced by a herald whenever he was disciplining anyone, 8 "What you do not wish that a man should do to you, do not do to him." And so highly did he value this sentiment that he had it written up in the Palace and in public buildings.

52 1 Legamen ad paginam Latinam Once, on learning that a soldier had maltreated an old woman, he dismissed the man from the service and gave him to the woman as a slave, in order that he might support her, for he was a waggon-maker. And when the soldiers grumbled at this action, he persuaded them all to submit quietly and actually frightened them. 2 His rule, though harsh and stern, was called bloodless for the reason that he never put a senator to death — or so Herodian, a Greek writer, declares in his history of his own times.214 3 Moreover, so stern was he toward the soldiers that frequently he discharged entire legions,215 addressing the men as "Citizens" instead of "Soldiers";216 and he never felt any fear of his troops, for it could not be said as a criticism of his character that his tribunes p285or generals ever took tithes out of the soldiers' pay,217 his motto being: "A soldier is not to be feared if he is clothed and armed and shod, and has a full stomach and something in his money-belt." And this was because poverty in a soldier drove him, when in arms, to every desperate deed. 4 Last of all, he did not permit the tribunes and generals to use soldiers as their servants, and he gave orders that four soldiers should walk in front of a tribune, six in front of a general, and ten in front of a legate, and that they should take their men into their quarters.


The Editor's Notes:

116 Apollonius of Tyana in Asia Minor, a Pythagorean philosopher and miracle-worker of the first century after Christ.

117 Containing also a statue of Alexander the Great; see c. xxxi.5; Marcus Aurelius had had a similar chapel, in which he kept statues of his teachers; see Marc. iii.5.

118 See c. xvi.3.

119 The son of Sammonicus Serenus the antiquary; see Carac. iv.4 and note. A series of sixty-three medical prescriptions written in hexameter verse, attributed in the manuscripts to Quintus Serenus, is usually supposed to have been written by him.

Thayer's Note: These ditties, on subjects ranging from hemorrhoids to warts to vomiting, and for the most part mercifully brief, may be found on this page of David Camden's Corpus Scriptorum Latinorum.

120 The Aqua Claudia, begun by Caligula and finished by Claudius in 52 A.D., drew its water from the Sabine Mountains in the neighbourhood of the mod. Subiaco. Together with the Aqua Anio Novus, it enters Rome on high arches at the Porta Maggiore.

Thayer's Note: For full details and sources, see the article Aqua Claudia in Platner and Ashby's Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome.

121 See Hadr. xxi.4; Ael. v.4‑5.

122 See note to Pesc. Nig. vii.4.

123 On the amici see note to Heliog. xi.2.

124 Cf. c. lxvii.2.

125 In distinction from the lararium maius, for which see c. xxix.2.

126 As the chief judicial officials; see note to c. xxvi.5.

127 In contrast with the extravagant gifts that were continually made by Elagabalus see Heliog. xxi.7; xxii.3; xxvi.5. On Alexander's liberalitates see c. xxi.9 and note.

128 See note to Hadr. vi.5.

129 See Heliog. xx.3 and note.

130 Cf. c. xxxvii.1.

131 Not otherwise known.

132 See Sev. xix.7.

133 Cf. c. xli.4; in contrast with Elagabalus, see Heliog. xix.3.

134 Cf. c. xxiii.4‑7.

135 But cf. c. xxiv.4.

136 Cf. c. xxx.2.

137 See Pesc. Nig. xi.5.

138 See note to Pert. xi.3.

139 Contests (ἄγωνες) modelled after the great Greek contests had been in vogue in Rome since 186 B.C. Originally purely athletic, they were soon extended to include musicians and, later, poets. The most famous were the Ludi pro salute Augusti (to commemorate the battle of Actium), the Agon Neroneus, held in 60 and 65 and restored in honour of Minerva by Gordian III, and the Agon Capitolinus, instituted by Domitian. (p245)Nothing further is known of the Agon Herculeus to judge from the name it was athletic in character.

140 On the expression fumum vendere see note to Pius vi.4.

141 See c. xxviii.6.

142 Cf. c. xxxiii.3.

143 In contrast with Elagabalus; see Heliog. xx.4‑7; xxiv.3.

144 Regarded as a great dainty; see Pert. xii.6 and note.

145 The 25th March, celebrated in much the same manner as the modern Carnival.

Thayer's Note: For more detailed information see the article Hilaria in Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities.

146 The 6th‑13th July; they were especially characterized by theatrical performances.

Thayer's Note: For more detailed information see the article Ludi Apollinares in Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities.

147 There were two Epula Jovis, the 13th Sept. and the 13th Nov., connected respectively with the Ludi Romani (4th‑19th Sept.) and the Ludi Plebeii (4th‑17th Nov.). The first of these is doubtless meant here. It was celebrated as the anniversary of the founding of the temple of Jupiter on the Capitolium and in the earliest period was regarded as the first day of the year.

148 Called Gargilius Martialis in Prob. ii.7. He is probably to be identified with the Q. Gargilius Martialis who wrote a treatise on husbandry, including also an account of the medicinal use of farm-products and of veterinary art. Parts of it have been preserved in the so‑called Medicina Plinii, a manual of medicine dating from the fourth century.

149 See Heliog. xix.5; xxi.6; xxiv.1.

150 Martial, V.29, with several variations. The superstition is mentioned also in Pliny, Nat. Hist. XXVIII.260.

151 Trajan had the reputation of being a hard drinker; see Hadr. iii.3; Dio, LXVIII.7.4; Victor, Caes. xiii.4.

152 See c. xxiv.4.

153 Fourteen in number; see note to Heliog. xx.3.

154 This statement can hardly be literally correct, but that the taxes were reduced seems evident from c. xvi.1 and xxxii.5.

155 His attempts to improve the currency are attested by copper coins with the legends Restitutor Monetae and (p255)Moneta Restituta; see Cohen, IV2, p453 f., nos. 516‑518, and p420, no. 180. The aureus and half-aureus of Alexander are well known, but no third-aureus is known prior to the time of Valerian (253 A.D.); see Mommsen, Röm. Münzwesen, p776.

156 Aurei. The name solidus was applied to the aureus from the period of Constantine onward.

157 i.e. 50 aurei; at this time 1 lb. gold = 50 aurei; see Cohen, I2, Intro., p. xviii. It is difficult to believe that such huge gold pieces were ever coined.

158 On the use and prohibition of silk garments see notes to Heliog. xxvi.1.

159 The emperor's robes, because of their great value, were regarded as forming part of the imperial treasury, and, accordingly, were under the charge of the procurator thesaurorum (this is probably the meaning of the term procurator aerarii maioris in Diad. iv.1); see Hirschfeld, Verwaltungsbeamten, p307 f., n3. The manufacture of these robes constituted a separate department of the imperial administration under the (p257)name of ratio purpurarum. A procurator of Alexander charged with its conduct is commemorated in an inscription from Corinth; see CIL III.536. In 383 the manufacture of purple robes became an imperial monopoly; see Cod. Justinianus, IV.4, 1.

160 In contrast with Elagabalus; see Heliog. xxxii.1.

161 The procurator baphii is mentioned in the Codex Justinianus and other documents of the later empire.

162 See c. xlii.1. On this type of cloak see notes to Cl. Alb. ii.5.

163 So also Hadrian and Marcus Aurelius; see Hadr. xxii.3; Marc. xxvii.3.

164 On the triumphal toga see note to Cl. Alb. ii.5.

165 See note to Gord. iv.4.º

166 Woollen or linen bands wrapped about the calves as a protection against the cold. Augustus wore them in winter (Suet. Aug. lxxxii), but in the first century they were considered as suitable for invalids only; see Quintilian, XI.3.144.

Thayer's Note: For full details and sources, see the article Fascia in Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities.

167 Tightly-fitting trousers gathered in at the ankle, the characteristic costume of the northern barbarians. These appear clad in them on Trajan's Column and the Arch of Constantine. In the first century they were regarded as a barbarum tegmen (so Tacitus, Hist. II.20), but the present passage seems to suggest that their use in the third century was not uncommon. Their use in Rome was prohibited at (p261)the end of the fourth century; see Codex Theodosianus, XIV.10.2.

Thayer's Note: For full details and sources, and an engraving of a typical scene from Trajan's Column, see the article Bracae in Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities.

168 In contrast with Elagabalus; see Heliog. xxiii.3‑4; xxix.1.

169 Cf. c. xxxiv.1.

170 As Elagabalus had gladiatorial fights; see Heliog. xxv.7‑8.

171 Cf. c. xliv.4.

172 In Verrem, Act. II, iv.5, 9.

173 See Heliog. xxix.1 and note.

174 See note to Carac. iv.8.

175 See note to c. xxviii.1.

176 The quaestores candidati principis were named directly by the emperor without the formality of an election. Both these and the quaestors elected in the ordinary way were obliged to provide public games at their own expense. According to the present passage, Alexander limited this obligation to the quaestores candidati and provided the others (the (p265)quaestores arcarii) with funds from the privy-purse; see Mommsen, CIL i2 p336, and Staatsrecht, ii3, p534 f.

177 Cf. c. xxii.4 and note.

178 See Hadr. xiii.6 and note.

179 He and his mother were criticized for this; see note to c. xiv.7.

180 Cf. c. xxviii.7.

181 This was, of course, fictitious.

182 See c. xxxv.4 and note.

183 See c. xxiv.3 and note.

184 Persius, SaturaeII.69. The MSS. of Persius read sancto.

185 See c. l. f.

186 See c. xxiii.4‑7.

187 The term rationalis, originally applied to the official (also called a rationibus) who had the supervision of the privy-purse at Rome, was in the later third and the fourth centuries used generally, though not officially, to designate any provincial procurator; see Maxim. xiv.1; Gord. vii.2.

188 On his interest in Judaism and Christianity see c. xxii.4 and note.

189 See Pesc. Nig. vii.3‑6 and notes.

190 On laws dealing with treasure-trove see Hadr. xviii.6 and note.

191 i.e. the holding of some public office.

192 Cf. Hadr. vii.7; xviii.3; Avid. Cass. vii.6.

193 See notes to c. xxiv.1 and Hadr. iii.9.

194 So also Ammianus Marcellinus XVII.9.2; plus dimidiati mensis cibaria, Cicero, Tusc. Disp. II.37.

195 Otherwise unknown.

196 Cited also in Prob. ii.7, but otherwise unknown and perhaps apocryphal. He is possibly to be identified with the Valerius Marcellinus of Max.‑Balb. iv.5.

197 Verus and Valens are otherwise unknown.

198 See c. xiv.6; xvii.1‑2 and note.

199 i.e. the right to inflict capital punishment, which in theory belonged only to the emperor or the senate. In the third century this right was granted by the emperor to all provincial governors; see Ulpian in DigestaI.18.6, 8.

200 See note to c. xxii. 5.

201 P. Herennius Dexippus of Athens. His Chronicle, frequently cited in the later biographies of the Historia Augusta, (p277)began apparently with the mythical period and extended down to 268 A.D. He held important municipal offices in Athens, and about 267 A.D., with the aid of a hastily collected army, he repelled an invasion of the Goths (the Heruli); see Gall. xiii.8.

202 See note to c. xx.3.

203 An error, for their mothers were sisters.

204 i.e. the Persians; see c. lv.1.

205 See c. xii.5 and note.

206 This seems to be contradicted by the many mutinies under him; see note to c. xii.5.

207 During the Indian campaign of Alexander the Great a picked corps of infantrymen was formed, armed, as an especial mark of honour, with shields decorated with silver; hence they were known as ἀργυράσπιδες. A similar corps with shields decorated with gold and hence named χρυσάσπιδες is mentioned by Pollux, I.175.

208 See note to c. lv.1.

209 See c. xli.1.

210 Notably in his vain attempt to protect Ulpian against (p281)the praetorian guards, who mutinied in 228 and killed him; see Dio, LXXX.2.2; see also c. xii.5 and note.

211 See note to c. xiv.7.

212 So also c. lxi.2. This is told also of Hadrian and Pescennius Niger; see Hadr. x.2; Pesc. Nig. xi.1.

213 See note to c. xxii.4.

214 Herodian, VI.1.79.8.

215 See c. xii.5 and notes.

216 Modelled after the famous incident related of Julius Caesar, that he quelled a mutiny by addressing the troops as (p283)Quirites (i.e. "Citizens"); see Suetonius, Julius, lxx. The speech attributed to Alexander is given in c. liii‑liv.

217 See c. xv.5 and note.


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